Enjoying the beach in Cabo san Lucas.

Enjoying the beach in Cabo san Lucas.


See that little girl in Ohio with the brown, wavy hair lying on the grass looking up at the sky? Yep, that’s me. My love story with travel begins when I was very young. I loved to lie on my back and look at the planes in the sky, their jet streams trailing behind them and ask myself “I wonder where they are going”? Paris, London, the Caribbean, the South Sea Islands, Hawaii? Anywhere they were going I convinced myself it was wonderful.  I was also enamored with the pictures in our home encyclopedias. I could close my eyes and transport myself to the place in the picture.

Before I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places. I rode the hump of a camel to the pyramids of Egypt, was baptized in the River Jordan, somberly toured Anne Frank’s home in Amsterdam, traveled to the glamour of the Big Apple and cruised to the Bahamas. I even threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Yes, right hand over left shoulder. I knew I did it right because I have returned several times since, always repeating the ritual. Not bad for a girl from a small town in Ohio.

My family was not wealthy by any means, but, they and my grandparents instilled in me the love of travel.  Fast forward the clock and the travel opportunities multiplied. Of all the luck, I married a Naval Officer. Now let me tell you, we traveled. Moving from one duty station to another, we experienced living in places from New England to the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, to our nation’s capital, then westward to Arizona, finally settling on the Pacific coast. Different accents, different foods, different people, different weather, different water….But, they were all wonderful adventures that continued to provide more opportunity for travel.

And among these great adventures was Naples, Italy. The place that changed my life forever.  “Live for today, for tomorrow we die”, is their motto. Yep, that about sums it up. Living in Italy taught me many things. The world is there for the taking and the opportunity to travel to 16 countries was way beyond amazing. I learned a different language and a different way of looking at life.  I also came to realize that I will never see it all before I die. So much world, so little time. But, I’m going to give it my best shot. Thankfully, my hubby, children and grandchildren also share my love for travel as well.

With the grandkids in the Virgin Islands.

I have been blessed to have had those “ah ha” moments while taking in the sheer beauty of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and hearing ‘O Sole Mio’ sung a cappella in the Blue Grotto of Capri. I have witnessed the opulent splendor of the Palace of Versailles and the alpine grace of Neuschwanstein Castle.  I fell in love again with my spouse on the Greek island of Santorini and breathed in the classical antiquity of both Athens and Rome.   I have viewed Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower and visited the leaning Tower of Pisa.  I traveled to Istanbul to see the majesty of the Blue Mosque and the many treasures of the Grand Bizarre. My first sighting of the Grand Canyon, its impact so stunning, brought me to my knees. The thundering power of Niagara Falls captivated me. And then, there is the surrealistic beauty of the Big Sur Coast, the giant silent sentinels of Muir Woods and Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in fog. I could go on and on, but will say just this, the world that God created is one heck of a gorgeous place.

By profession, I am a registered nurse and I love my job. I realize that having a career sometimes precludes me from the freedom of pursuing my passion for travel and adventure. But, every day, I believe, I am that much closer to attaining another one of my goals, to be a travel writer seeing more of the world. I seize every opportunity to expand my horizons, even if these include long weekends.

All right, if you’re wondering about the name of my blog “What’s In Your Suitcase?” it’s simply a metaphor for my curiosity. I often ask friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even total strangers where they are traveling and why . People are as diverse as their destinations. Their answers never cease to excite me and my list of places to go just keeps expanding.  One confession I must make however, is that I HATE TO PACK. Maybe it’s because I’ve already used up my energies doing my destination homework and building my “must see and do” list. But my packing issues are for a future article.

I have a picture in my office that I have carried with me for years during our many moves. It says “Find the place where you belong, then set your sights on reaching it”.  I kept it as a reminder that one major goal was to finally return to a place we truly loved, San Diego. And we did. Since then, I’ve come to realize the quote has taken on a deeper meaning.  The “place” it describes is not necessarily a destination.  It is a way of life. And the “where you belong” is anywhere you need to be. Where I need to be is traveling.

Ibn Battuta once said “Traveling-it leaves you speechless, then makes you into a storyteller. There are so many stories that need to be told. And I want to be that storyteller.

I welcome your companionship and comments as I share with you my adventures of travel through both story and picture. It is a journey I look forward to and who knows where it may lead us?